Volunteering on Cape Cod and the Islands
By: Marguerite Wiser
Whether you are a recent retiree, newcomer, or longtime resident, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket offer lots of opportunities for community
Volunteering on Cape Cod is a great way to make a difference in your community, get involved in an issue you care about, and meet other folks who are passionate in the same causes. While some organizations had to restrict volunteering over the past year due to COVID-19, many are beginning to welcome volunteers back! Being a volunteer does a couple of things; it inspires others to pay it forward and provide you a great sense of joy and accomplishment.
Many important organizations rely on volunteers to do the good work they do, here are a few ideas for prospective volunteers:
Food Pantries and Organizations Combatting Food Insecurity
With the high cost of living and seasonal economy food insecurity has been a problem on Cape Cod and the Islands that has only grown with the pandemic. Lots of organizations are doing their best to meet the challenge head on, and they need volunteer help! Whether collecting food at the county fair, boxing up delicious deliverables, or serving lunch at the library, volunteers are providing hunger relief for many local families. The Cape Cod Hunger Network, a coalition of organizations, is a good starting point for those looking to connect with a food bank or other volunteer need.
Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to help walk and care for dogs, socialize puppies and kittens, foster animals, and to help in a myriad of other ways. If you can’t have a furry friend of your own at home, volunteering at an animal shelter is a perfect way to spend time around animals and fellow animal lovers.
Beyond just a great spot to find a good book, libraries are a vital community resource, providing literacy programs, resources like computers and printers, and offering book groups and kids programming. Libraries are always looking for volunteers to lead book discussion groups, work with children, lead adult literacy programs or even just help collect and organize material for shelving or book sales. Check your local library’s website for details about what you can do.
Volunteer your time at a museum to help visitors learn more about a variety of aspects of the Cape and Islands. From maritime roots, notable residents, natural history, and the many wonderful art museums in the region there’s no shortage of interesting museums to get involved with! Many local museums rely on the enthusiasm and energy of volunteers to enhance the experience for their visitors. A great way to find the perfect museum to volunteer at is to visit all of the wonderful museums on Cape Cod and the Islands to find one that really interests you!
Volunteers at the YMCA are needed to assist with childcare, coaching, swimming lessons, family events, exercise classes, food service, fundraising, gardening, organizing, maintenance, reading with kids, and more! The YMCA aims to support youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The Cape Cod YMCA is located in West Barnstable.
Seniors Helping Seniors
Some seniors are unable to get around on their own and lack the companionship and freedom they once had. Consider volunteering, whether it’s running errands, delivering a meal, or just stopping by to sit and talk, volunteers can make a big difference. Local Councils on Aging can help connect interested volunteers to tasks and organizations where they are needed.
The Red Cross is one of the oldest and most active volunteer organizations in the country. Volunteers have become even more in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic for blood drive support and other services. Their disaster action team aids communities that have experienced natural disasters and other emergencies. If you’re not ready to head out into the field to the site of a wildfire, hurricane, or other disaster don’t worry, you can still help! The Red Cross also has virtual positions that allow you to volunteer from home! Becoming a volunteer with the Red Cross is as simple as going to their website and signing up.
Gardens and Farms
If you’ve got a green thumb, consider volunteering at one of the many gardens on Cape Cod and the Islands who rely on volunteer labor to flourish. From community gardens growing food for those in need to educational gardens that teach kids how to plant seeds and tend to vegetables, and the number of public ornamental gardens across the Cape and Islands, there is no shortage of gardening to be done! Many areas have garden clubs that can direct you to an organization that can benefit from your efforts.
Land Trusts, marine rescue groups, advocacy groups and others need your help to preserve and share the natural beauty of Cape Cod and the Islands. From trail work, guiding walks, and monitoring conservation land, to organizing work, local land trusts can make use of volunteers who enjoy being outdoors and want to protect the land and species that make the Cape and Island so great. Other organizations look towards the sea and need volunteer help to rescue cold-stunned or entangled, pick up marine debris, and more. The Cape Cod National Seashore also often need volunteer help. Still other groups need help to organize communities around conservation issues and with lots of other great work!
Performing Arts Centers
Jump into the vibrant performing arts scene on Cape Cod and the Islands by volunteering at one of the many museums, arts centers, theater venues and organizations that make Cape and Island productions come alive! Performing Arts Centers on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard need volunteers to assist with a host of tasks that include, but not limited to landscaping, event hosting, help desk, assisting staff, handing out tickets, leading tours, cataloging inventory, performing demonstrations and instruction, and more.